from Machiavelli’s “In What manner Princes Ought to Keep Their Words”
How commendable in a prince it is to keep his word and live with integrity, not making use of cunning and subtlety, everyone knows well. Yet we see by experience in these our days that those princes have effected great matters who have made small reckoning of keeping their words and have known by their craft to turn and wind men about and in the end have overcome those who have grounded upon the truth. You must then know there are two kinds of combating or fighting: the one by right of the laws, the other merely by force. That first way is proper to men, the other is also common to beasts. But because the first many times suffices not, there is a necessity to make recourse to the second, wherefore it behooves a prince to know how to make good use of that part which belongs to a beast as well as that which is proper to a man. This path hath been covertly showed to princes by ancient writers who say that Achilles and many others of those ancient princes were entrusted to Chiron the centaur to be brought up under his discipline. The moral of this, having for their teacher one that was half a beast and half a man, was nothing else but that it was needful for a prince to understand how to make his advantage of the one and the other nature because neither could subsist without the other. A prince, then, being necessitated to know how to make use of that part belonging to a beast, ought to serve himself of the conditions of the fox and the lion, for the lion cannot keep himself from snares nor the fox defend himself against the wolves. He had need then be a fox that he may beware of the snares, and a lion that he may scare the wolves. Those that stand wholly upon the lion understand not well themselves. And therefore a wise prince cannot nor ought not keep his faith given, when the observance thereof turns to disadvantage and the occasions that made him promise are past. For if men were all good,...
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